What Was I Thinking

What Was I Thinking

I recently went back to work after being a stay at home writer for two years. I love writing, but  I worried about doing nothing but pounding away on my keyboard day after day. Some days I didn’t leave the house. I felt I never had anything interesting (or not writing related) to say to my husband.
I didn’t want to become one-dimensional (Flat Stanley might have gotten a new girlfriend in Flat Gemma). So I asked for my old job at the health club back. My boss said yes immediately, and that part-time would be perfect. 15-20 hours a week, I thought. Perfect.

Except …

The company was sold, and thanks to my steal-trap mind, I know a lot more about the old system than most of my co-workers (I know all the secrets, and all the best hiding spots). I am unable to get my behind out of the office once I hit the 4-hour threshold. It’s my goal every day, but if you multiply my 4 hours by 2, that’s how much I’m working. Each and every day.

So I try to sneak in writing time when I can. Up at 5 AM to write, writing at night after dinner. Doing my social media stuff when I can. Grocery shopping at night (a task I hate worst than cleaning the toilets, but we won’t be discussing my lack of time for cleaning the house).

I know there is a thing called work/life balance, but my teeter-totter is definitely stuck on the work side of things. But, with my usual Pollyanna attitude, I’m just going to leave a working song that always gives me happy feet.

Just A Taste of Risking the Vine

Just A Taste of Risking the Vine

I’ve got a little secret … I love wine. So much that I’m writing a series set in and around vineyards. The research was fun and informative as I started. Risking the Vine features Jacqui Bishop and Luke Rossi, who have been sent to Team Vino, a team building camp in wine country. They’s met each other before, in Medford where they are from. But now, they are really going to get to know each other. Enjoy!

 

As the wait staff placed baskets of bread on the table, Luke asked, “So we met at a hospital happy hour, but you aren’t an employee. Where do you work?”

“MedServices. We’re a medical records management firm,” she replied.

“Hate to say it, I think we use your competition.”

“I know. Bella’s told me on numerous occasions.”

His eyes darkened. “Bella’s okay. We’ve worked together to settle a couple of issues with the nurses’ union. She strikes me as one of the sane ones in the HR department.”

“Hmm. Well, I’ve never heard her described that particular way.” Jac smiled at the idea of her zany friend being sane.

“In my experience the entire department thrives on a witch hunt.” Luke’s tone was glum. “They are constantly looking for a scapegoat to pin the latest trouble on, instead of considering the source of the trouble.”

“I think that’s the case with most organizations.” She reached for a piece of bread. Time to change the subject. “Where did you move from?”

“Most recently from Tampa. I’ve always lived in the southeast, so this is an interesting change.”

“How so?”

Luke spread butter on the piece of sourdough bread he’d selected. “The climate in Oregon is cooler and more temperate. Still terribly humid. There are a lot of rainy days in the northwest.”

“So right,” Jac replied, tugging on her hair, closer to straight than curly today. Humidity sucked, which was why she typically wore her hair up. She never had trouble making small talk, so why were they talking about the weather?

“Why are you here? And by here I mean at team building camp.” The expression in Luke’s eyes seemed open and curious. But something else lurked and smoldered, more than mere friendliness.

Low in her body, Jac experienced an answering heat. She cast about, trying to recall his question. “Oh . . . um, I’m up for a promotion and since I’ve never supervised people before, the owner wanted me to learn some tricks to boost cooperation between my department and other internal clients. Although, being out of the office hasn’t stopped the calls from coming in. I guess it’s nice to be missed.”

“Trouble?”

“Nothing I can’t handle. I’m in client services and sometimes our customers can be demanding. Medical billing, records and privacy concerns, all can be a bit of a nightmare.”

“Tell me about it,” Luke sympathized. His gaze clouded. “Probably a lot like personnel and budget management.”

Jac leaned to her right as the waiter put a bowl of stew in front of her. Her shoulder brushed Luke’s. Warm, welcome heat from the contact thrilled her. Even though she sort of already knew the answer, she asked, “What brought you here?”

Luke fisted his hand on the table, tapped it a couple of time, while a muscle in his jaw popped.

Oops, sore subject.

“Let’s not talk about work anymore, okay? Honestly, I’d rather talk about the weather or baseball than my job. Or whether or not you have a husband.” He lifted one brow and tipped his head to the side.

A small sizzle raced across her belly. “Uh . . . no, no husband. Not even a boyfriend in sight.” And she hadn’t been heavily involved with anyone since her college sweetheart. Damn him.

He nodded. “Good. I didn’t have a chance to get to know you at happy hour. I’m glad to fix that now.”

The slow lift at the corners of his mouth drew her in. Made her believe he really did think it was good she didn’t have a significant other.

Just A Taste of “Starlight” by Xio Axelrod

Just A Taste of “Starlight” by Xio Axelrod

FB ad3Starlight is book two of my FALLING STARS series and concludes (or does it?) the epic saga of Sam Newman and Valerie Saunders, two starstruck lovers that defy logic, social media, and their own personal baggage to find a way to one another.

In book one, Sam and Val spend months fighting the inevitable, while being forced to act out their desires on-screen. In book two, all bets are off. Here’s a little peek. [Read more…]

Just a Taste from Sarah Hegger

Just a Taste from Sarah Hegger

Good morning from New York City, where I am attending the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference. I’m sharing a taste with you of my upcoming new release, Nobody’s Fool #2 Willow Park Romance.

1978477_326714900859339_7243473038906140942_oJosh winced around a mouthful of lukewarm beer. Time to go. He’d been nursing this beer for the last hour and his new book on Sir Isaac Newton was calling him. Age or boredom—who the hell knew?

He’d only come here for a quiet beer to unwind from his day. Granted, this particular bar was a shitty choice, but it was close to his condo, the beer was cold, and the bartender friendly.

A woman pushed through two slick broker types and fumbled a cell phone out of a pair of baggy GAP jeans. Her burgundy University of Western Ontario sweatshirt sneered like a rescue pound mongrel at the expensive Armanis flanking it.

Her brow puckered into a vicious frown.

She could be lost, or in disguise, but she did have the whole I-have-no-idea-exactly-how-hot-I-am thing going for her. A light lurking under a bushel, a diamond in the rough, a girl with an air of do me, bad boy she seemed oblivious to.

Not so clueless was every red-blooded male in her vicinity. More than one covert eye went her way.

Dark eyes, gleaming with intelligence and ringed by thick lashes, met his gaze.

A promising start—if he was looking for a pickup, which he wasn’t—but still…There was something familiar about this girl.

Diminutive and with her face devoid of makeup, she could have passed for fourteen. The air of determination marked her as older, however. Closer to his age, which meant old enough to drink, old enough to drive, and old enough for all sorts of interesting games.

Ten years ago, five even, he’d have cruised right over and worked his smolder. He knew better now.

The woman ducked her head and took a call. A mane of long wavy hair obscured her face.

The sort of hair a man liked to curl his fingers in.

Her gaze flickered up and over him. Angry eyes under a pair of lowered brows, giving him the eye so evil he almost looked over his shoulder for the true beneficiary.

Whoa!

Women, as a rule, didn’t look at him that way. Women dressed like bag ladies with … pencils? No kidding. It was definitely a couple of standard number twos holding her hair tightly against her head. Women like her almost never gave him the hairy eyeball.

His feelings might be a bruised.

Nope. Feelings intact but ego definitely grazed. She kept her hostile glare going. Those things could smoke a hole right through him.

Maybe she was gay. Josh winced behind his beer, glad he wasn’t voicing any of this out loud. He would sound like an egotistical prick. Okay, women didn’t often turn him down, but it happened. Sometimes.

Her glance shifted away. She was aware of him and doing her best not to show it.

He knew her. It hit him out of the blue and he stopped to think. She had the sort of face it was hard to forget. Not pretty, exactly, more compelling, and a blank canvas for every thought running through her head.

And right now she was not aiming happy thoughts in his direction.

She hunched over her phone to hear better.

The love ’em and leave ’em style of his early twenties hadn’t left many warm and fuzzy feelings behind him. Still, he came up blank. He was reasonably sure she wasn’t one of the bodies littering his youth, but this lady did not like him.

“Hey, Jo-osh?” His name was singsonged at him.

And speaking of his youth, right on cue. The timing nearly made him bust out laughing.

His mystery lady stuck her cute nose in the air. The amber glow from the lighted bar counter turned her skin to butter cream and picked out the tiniest golden freckles across her upturned nose,

The disdain rolled across the distance between them in waves.

“Hey, Josh, like, hello.” A pair of breasts intruded into his line of sight, right beneath his nose. He faced the owner of the pair.

There were three of them and all looking at him expectantly.

Ah, shit, here we go.

Over the newcomers’ shoulders the mystery lady shook her head in disgust. Her eyes raked over him and the posse in front of him and rolled.

Now, that was not entirely fair. He might even be getting a little pissed at her and her attitude. Girls like the trio facing him were knee deep in trendy Chicago bars, which this one happened to be. They were voracious hunters and he’d only been standing here minding his own business. She needn’t act like he’d encouraged them.

In the meanwhile, Bambi, Barbie, and Bubbles—or whatever—posed and primped in front of him. Their cheeks pink with a combination of alcohol and excitement.

His heart sank. He could almost script what was coming. It was his own damn fault, ultimately, but there had to come a point when the ghosts of the past went toward the fucking light or something.

“So, like, we were wondering…” Bambi/Barbie/Bubbles pursed her frosted mouth at him and stuck out her breasts.

As if he could have missed them the first time around.

Two and three were providing the flanking action, mirroring her movements and throwing in some freestyle hair tossing.

“Hi, girls.” His skin prickled. Was he really going to have to do this now? Mystery lady with the judgmental eyes was going to get her money’s worth tonight.

SarahSig

 

Just a Taste of “Cookie Cutter” by Jo Richardson

Just a Taste of “Cookie Cutter” by Jo Richardson

CCDjYyVWIAECt2H

Chapter 1. Iris

 

I breathe.

I count.

One, two, three . . .

“Allison Rose Alden! It. Is. Time. To. Go.”

I swear, if I had a nickel for every time I was late to work because of this child . . .

“Um, I have nothing to wear, Mother!” Her voice booms from upstairs.

She has plenty to wear. It’s October for Christ’s sake. We just went school shopping last month.

“I did your laundry yesterday.” I open the front door to give my daughter a hint. I’m not waiting for her.

Mom.”

“Good luck hitchhiking.”

I remember one more thing I meant to tell her this morning as I check to make sure I have everything. “And please stop using my tampons, Ally; I’m more than happy to pick some up for you but-”

I stand, shell-shocked, when I look up to see my path is blocked by a very tall, very dark-haired and bright-eyed, hard-body.

And he’s very blatantly chuckling. At me.

“Rough morning?” His brown eyes reflect amusement. His grin is wide. And cocky.

Hmph.

What is this strange man doing here, on my doorstep at zero dark thirty? And why is he laughing at me?

This is the last thing I need first thing in the morning when I haven’t even had my coffee yet.

I mean seriously, why does he have to smirk like that?

“I . . .” Where are my words? Use your words, Iris.

“I’m Carter,” he says. “Blackwood.” He hooks a thumb over his shoulder, still grinning ear to ear. “I moved in a few days ago.” He looks like he recently walked off of a photo shoot for some sort of construction worker of the year award.

His words sink in and I don’t want to look. Don’t look. But I do it anyway.

As I lean slowly to one side, I recall a conversation I had with my friend and realtor, Carl Burbanks, the other day. He told me all about how the new owner of Cindy and Sam’s old place got quite the deal and that it was his understanding that the gentleman planned to flip it for profit.

Cindy would cry if she knew. Sam would roll over in his grave.

It’s him, alright – the night owl home renovator that does not seem to know the meaning of the phrase quiet time. And is also, apparently, a morning person.

I stand upright again.

“Iris,” I tell him, hesitantly.

He peeks around me, into the house. “Your husband home, Iris?”

I put myself directly in his line of vision. This way, he has no choice but to pay attention to what I have to say next. I don’t want him to misunderstand me. “There is no husband, Carter,” I give him the same touch of sarcasm he threw at me.

His brown eyes flicker with interest and I question myself for a moment.

Should I have let that tidbit slip?

For all I know he could be a mentally unstable human being who flips houses as a cover for murdering innocent single mothers.

He’s not a murderer, Iris. This is Spangler, after all. Note to self, stop binge watching Dexter on Netflix.

“Got a hammer I could borrow, then?” His eyebrows bounce and his smile is wider now, if that’s even possible. His teeth are ridiculously white. I mean, like, fake white. There’s no way that’s a natural white. He must be paying thousands to keep his teeth that perfect. And who has eyelashes that thick? I blink when I realize I’m gawking at the man. Then it strikes me that what he’s asked for is odd. If I wasn’t seriously wary before, I am now.

“You remodel homes and you don’t have a hammer?”

“How did you— ?” his brow pulls together, then he shakes his head as though he wants to forget whatever it is he thought. “Never mind. Mine broke.”

The splintered tool is held up for me to see he’s not lying and I narrow my eyes at it. I know for a fact there’s a hardware store within ten minutes of here. Everything is within ten minutes of Spangler.

“Can’t you just go buy a new one?”

He sets it down, gently, onto my entryway table, as though he plans to stay a while. He’s definitely not staying a while. I don’t have that kind of time. Ally’s about to be late for school, therefore making me late for work and that’s simply not acceptable.

I’m still staring at the hammer when he answers. “I’d rather not.”

Then I point at my neighbor’s house. “What about—”

“They weren’t home.”

His grin is annoying. Way too annoying to be a murderer. And yes, I realize how nonsensical that sounds. I snarl. I don’t mean to. It’s a knee jerk reaction I have to pushy people. Especially pushy people who have an answer to everything. I have a choice to make here. I can, a) stand here arguing with him over it while debating whether or not he’s a murderer when in all actuality, if he was a murderer, he probably would have killed me already, or b) I could go get my damn hammer for him. Since battling him will do nothing but make me later than I already am, I opt out of an early morning, pre-caffeine argument and spin on my heels. I hurry toward the garage, and as I pass the stairs, I holler up to my daughter again.

“Five minutes!”

She groans in dramatic pain and I shake my head. I cannot wait for this “phase” to be over.

“Got yourself a handful there, I take it,” my temporary neighbor jokes from behind me.

“None of your business,” I say under my breath.

His voice is closer than it should be, so I stop and turn. He’s following me. Why is he following me? I put a hand to his chest. And holy. It’s actually hard as a rock. I didn’t think that was a real thing.

I force my eyes away from his pecs and look up at him.

“You – stay here.” Just in case.

Carter puts his hands up in defeat and stays put.

I finish my strut to the garage and open the door only wide enough for me to slip through without him seeing past me. I don’t need him making a tick list of all the things in here. Or judging my hoarder tendencies. They aren’t really my hoarder tendencies, to clarify. My ex managed to pack all his things, but never managed to pick them up after the divorce. I somehow cannot bring myself to get rid of the boxes that litter my garage now.

Call me sentimental. Or maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

When I flick on the light, I sigh deep and heavy. I have no idea where I put the hammer last. Hell, I don’t remember the last time I used the hammer. I step down the three deep stairs into my overcrowded garage and walk around. I glance inside boxes as I pass them to see if I can figure out which one might have some freaking tools. The first is full of papers that look like they date back to the nineteen eighties. The second and third host an array of knick-knacks my ex has collected over the years. Football memorabilia, college player bobble heads, things like that. And then, I see it, finally. The box, that is. And only because it’s clearly marked. It’s in a bin on the highest peak of the tallest shelf.

Figures.

I check the time on my watch. It’s getting ridiculously late, now, so I throw myself into overdrive.

I really don’t have time for this.

I grab the ladder from its corner. It’s not in the best of shape. I’m pretty sure we bought this thing right after we were married and that was a good seventeen or eighteen years ago. As I open it up and prop it against the wall, I’m not so sure this is a good idea but I find myself climbing up the rickety steps, regardless. At the top, I struggle to open the box and keep my balance at the same time but finally find a hammer buried inside. I grumble all the way down the ladder and leave it be, which might have been a good decision except that I trip over the corner leg and stub my toe.”

“Mother effffffff.” Ohmygod that hurt that hurt that hurt.

“Ow.” I curse the ladder. I curse my toe. I curse the hammer and the man who came to my house asking for it all the way back to the steps leading back into the house. I limp the first two but on the third, I misjudge my footing and slip off the step. I try to regain my balance but I can’t. The hammer goes soaring and my eyes widen. My scream sounds like a wild banshee as I fly backwards. I frantically attempt to decipher the best way to land that will cause me the least amount of pain when suddenly . . . I’m not falling anymore.

The hammer clangs against the concrete floor as I’m jerked forward and for a moment I think someone is helping me up from behind. It’s not until I’m pressed firmly against a warm, solid, body, which smells like saw dust, do I realize I’ve been pulled, not pushed. He holds my wrist tightly while my arm wraps itself around his waist to hold on. When my senses return, I look up.

Perfect, dark chocolate irises stare back at me.

Soooo not a murderer.

“Gotcha.” The corners of his luscious mouth lift just slightly. Enough to make me lose my breath.

“Yes.” I’m mesmerized with the sound of his voice. “You do.”

 

AMAZON | B&N | KOBO | iBOOKS | LITTLE BIRD

goodreads

Thanks so much for checking the story out today!

Big Love,

Jo xoxo 6